The Only One in the World
A Little Story
Let’s imagine for a moment. You’re on the market for a new computer. You choose to purchase it from a local shop rather than a big conglomerate. You hope to get your questions answered by someone who can speak from experience instead of a training script. You have high hopes going in, but before long you wonder if you made the right decision… The line is out the door. Clearly this is a popular place. It’s finally your turn, and you feel the pressure to get in and get out. Their lips are closed, but even so you hear the screams from those still waiting: “Hurry UP!” You know your request is going to take some time, and the last thing you want is to feel rushed. You’re already nervous; you have questions and want opinions before making such a large purchase, but you stand shaking in your boots for fear of looking like an idiot and angering the foot tappers behind you. The customer service rep at the counter doesn’t know it yet, but he is either going to make his company a couple thousand dollars in the next few minutes, or shake his head watching you walk out the door empty handed. It’s all on his shoulders… You muster up your courage, and explain your situation to the store clerk. You want to know about storage, screen size, popularity, typical usage, accessories, price points, battery life, support options, and setup. After the first couple questions, the clerk takes a (visible) deep breath, squares his shoulders, and puts on his blinders. From that point on, he never breaks eye contact with you; he smiles and nods, genuinely pretending your questions aren’t silly. He fills up all the counter space with accessory options, letting you turn the boxes over in your hands. It suddenly feels like everyone else in the room has disappeared. The foot tappers stand still, the phone rings at a lesser decibel. It is just you and him. And more importantly, your answers. In the end, the store clerk succeeds and you walk out carrying more bags than you intended. But it really was all because of the service. The product is the same no matter where you purchase it.
Do You Make Your Customers Feel Like They’re Your Priority?
If your customers could easily walk away and get the product or service you sell somewhere else, you need to hone in on the experience they have while with you. In a storefront, it’s making eye contact with them as soon as they come through the door. It’s not letting the screaming kid in the corner distract you. It’s hanging on their every word like dealing with them is the only thing you have to do that day. It’s making sure they’re taken care of, whether that’s in your job description or not.
What About Through Your Website?
Maybe your online presence is dominant, and your storefront is recessive. Those same storefront principles apply here, too. How do you make a website feel like a place? How do you make your visitors feel as though the site was created just for them? Clear Content Make it very obvious what your site is about. Don’t make them read the entire “About” page just to find what it is you actually do. You went to the local computer store because you knew exactly what they offered, and you were interested.
- What information will they be looking for? Make it easy to get to by putting it in the top navigation, or using subheads to clearly state what they will read about next. This makes it easy for the reader to skim, which essentially gets them where they want to go faster.
- Don’t be cryptic with your page titles. Creative headlines are one thing, but when your visitors land on a page, make sure they know what page they’re on. Can you use breadcrumbs to make this more obvious?
- Put things where they’re supposed to be. Put content where one would expect to find it, plain and simple.
Guide Them Just like making eye contact when they walk through a storefront door, when they first come to your website you want to command their attention. Not aggressively, but make sure the first thing that catches their eye is the feature you think they’re probably looking for.
- Nudge them through the door, ahem, page. Guide them through a navigation that feels natural. Easy. Obvious.
- Help them into comfy chair and give them something interesting to read.
- And like a store clerk waiting to ring you up, be there to help them out of that chair when they’re ready to check out.
Be Unexpectedly Helpful Let’s pretend a visitor goes to your site looking for a contact number to schedule an appointment. Then they discover they can schedule then and there – online. At that point you’re the one who will follow up with them, so you’re taking something off their plate, which is super helpful. When you asked about accessories at the computer store, the clerk didn’t just show you one option. He went above and beyond, showing you the full spectrum to help you make an informed decision. He also rattled off very helpful reviews about each accessory, allowing you apply their usage to your particular need. He saw an opportunity to be intuitive, and he took it. Clean and Simple It’s tempting to want to throw every little bit of info about your business on your website, but you don’t want your visitors to have to wade through a mountain of data just to find what they need. You also don’t want them distracted by flashing lights in the sidebar, or twinkling ads in the footer. Think about putting the most important information up front, with an option to click to dig deeper. Keep your site and organized and it’ll be obvious you care about appearances. We know, it’s not ALL about appearances, but an unkempt website is like a teenager’s bedroom. Nobody wants to go in there, and heaven only knows what’s under the top layer of clothes. If your homepage is a mess, your visitors can only expect difficulty finding what they need on your secondary pages.
Be the Focused Clerk
A smile, an apology for the wait, and undivided attention goes a long way these days. Make sure your customers know they’re what matters most to you, whether you’re standing face to face, or there’s a computer screen between you. They might be a little nervous at first, but a comfortable space (even if it’s cyber!) and a friendly tone can mean the difference between repeat business and a negative review. Few things are better than feeling like you’re the only one in the world.